“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.Matthew 5:43-48
Imagine toiling for days, tilling and turning the earth over, burying seed in the rows. But not a cloud in the sky.
Imagine the crib empty for years. Yet again, right on schedule, the familiar pain and bleeding begin.
In the time and place of Abraham, fertility was survival.
Red-necked farmers and desperate women traveled to altars on high places to make sacrifices to their gods and goddesses in exchange for rain or an open womb. Each sacrifice greater than the last until the greatest sacrifice of all had to be made: their own child.
It was a familiar custom in those days and in that place: Another deity demanding a life before giving life.
Isaac climbed onto the wooden platform and his father raised his knife.
But God shouted through an angel. “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay your hand on the boy …” (Genesis 22:11,12)
God provided a substitute for Isaac that day: a ram caught in a thornbush.
The Living God is not like any god Abraham had known before.
Jesus reminds us today to be like the Living God by giving life to everyone.
God is gracious: Giving breath to those who curse Him. Giving strength to those who war against Him. Giving wealth to those who hoard it. Giving life to those who take it. Giving sun and rain to the righteous and unrighteous alike.
Our God became the sacrifice, crowned in thorns, to give life to us all.
• Who is my enemy and how can I give them life today?
Living God, thank you for sustaining our life. Thank you for waking us up this morning, putting a roof over our head, clothes on our back, food on our plate, and friends and family at our table.
We ask that you would give these things and more to our enemies today. Love them, serve them, protect them, provide for them through us.